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The Physicians Committee

Meat and Dairy Harm State of the Union's Health

January 19, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   heart disease


President's Heart Disease Reflects State of the Union

The president’s recent checkup indicates that he has heart disease. He is not alone. About 92 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. The 222 pounds of meat, 274 eggs, and 35 pounds of cheese the average American is projected to consume in 2018 certainly won’t help matters. So I invite the president to take a moment at the State of the Union Address on Jan. 30 and invite all Americans to join him in the fight against heart disease by signing up for the bipartisan 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

President Trump has made no secret of his love for KFC and at McDonald’s, including his reported favorite of two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake. But those foods are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products that increase his heart disease risk. But here again, he is not alone. Many Americans have less-than-healthy eating habits.

So I’m hoping our President will make America grate. That is, grate carrots, beets, and onions onto their salads. And make America sprinkle slivered walnuts onto their morning oatmeal. And make America fill a whole-grain tortilla with healthy beans, rice, and salsa, for a zero-cholesterol, heart-healthy menu.

And encourage America to ditch meaty, cheesy fast food. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent. These same proinflammatory products also increase the risk for colorectal cancer by up to one-third, according to a study published this week in JAMA Oncology. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women.

The good news is that healthy foods can make these risks plummet.

The state of the union’s health is not what it needs to be. And our love affair with meat and dairy products is to blame. A plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse heart disease and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. President Trump can help Kickstart the nation’s health on Jan. 30 by promoting a plant-based diet to both sides of the aisle at his State of the Union Address.

Plant-Powered NFL Playoffs: Titans versus Patriots

January 11, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   vegan


Plant-Powered NFL Playoffs: Titans versus Patriots

Get ready for the first plant-powered NFL playoffs: It’s the Tennessee Titans versus the New England Patriots this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. Players from both teams credit their plant-based diets for fueling their path to the playoffs this season.

Eleven Titans were inspired to try out plant-based diet after linebacker Derrick Morgan and his wife, chef Charity Morgan, who prepares many of their meals, went vegan earlier this year.



“Everybody is making plays. Everybody is healthy. Everybody is eating right, and she’s been a big part,” Titan linebacker Brian Orakpo told ESPN. You find Chef Morgan’s recipes on her website.

The players say they were also motivated by the documentaries What the Health and Forks Over Knives.

The Titans are up against last year’s Super Bowl winners, the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady, who led the Patriots to four Super Bowl wins, is a longtime proponent of plant-based diets and has inspired teammates like Rob Gronkowski to try out a more plant-heavy diet this season.

“I feel looser. I feel my mobility has increased a lot. I feel way more pliable,” Gronkowski said after 12 weeks of working with Brady and his trainer Alex Guerrero this preseason to improve his diet and incorporate more stretching into his workouts.

Good luck to both teams this weekend. No matter the outcome, plant-based diets will prevail!

Healthy Plant-Based Holiday Centerpieces

November 27, 2017   Dr. Neal Barnard   vegan


By Lee Crosby, R.D., L.D.

Meatless Monday holiday centerpieces
Eileen Whelan and Lee Crosby, R.D., L.D.

We all know that we should eat our fruits and vegetables during the holiday season. They not only help prevent holiday weight gain and give our immune systems a boost, but they can brighten up the holiday table, too! This morning, I stopped by Washington’s WJLA today to share ideas for healthy and simple holiday centerpieces:

Bejeweled Fruit Tree

1.  Bejeweled Fruit Tree

Whether at the center of your table or in place of a candy bowl, this tree is simple, beautiful, and healthy. Your kids will love helping you create it. All you need is toothpicks, a bamboo skewer, and your favorite fruits—the more colorful the better! Be sure to load up on blue and purple berries, like blackberries and blueberries. They get their color from pigments called anthocyanins, which may help improve brain function.

Pomander Oranges

2. Pomander Oranges

Wow your guests with this all-natural method of making your house smell amazing! Simply decorate oranges with whole cloves and stack in a glass bowl or vase. Added bonus? A small study showed that just the smell of citrus may help with depression and boost immunity.

Pomegranate and Tangerine Bowls

3. Pomegranate and Tangerine Bowls

Officially the easiest holiday centerpiece in the history of centerpieces: Fill a bowl with pomegranates and flank with two smaller bowls of tangerines. Be sure to grab extra so you can snack on these throughout the holiday season. Pomegranates may help fight prostate cancer, while tangerines have vitamin A and vitamin C, both of which are needed for a healthy immune system.

Cranberry Candles

4. Cranberry Candles

Add some greens to the bottom of small jars or vases, fill with water, float cranberries or blueberries, and top with a floating candle. Beautiful, fast, and easy! Plus, cranberries contain resveratrol, the heart-healthy chemical also found in grape juice.

Three-Tiered Treat Tower

5. Three-Tiered Treat Tower

Use fruits, veggies, nuts, and plant-based cheeses to create a beautiful, edible centerpiece for your holiday table. Added bonus? The healthful fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of nuts and seeds in this tower can help protect your loved ones’ hearts.

The Healthiest Podcast Ever

November 21, 2017   Dr. Neal Barnard   other


The Healthiest Podcast Ever

I’m excited to announce that we just launched a podcast: The Exam Room by the Physicians Committee. In each episode, we’ll be examining the knowledge and tools you need to live a long and healthy life.

The show is hosted by “The Weight Loss Champion” Chuck Carroll who lost 265 pounds and has kept it off for more than eight years with a vegan diet. He’ll speak with inspirational guests who have saved their lives by losing weight and reversing diabetes and other chronic and acute illnesses.

We’ll also talk with doctors and dietitians about the science behind a plant-based diet and review—and sometimes debunk—the latest in medical research. Plus, we’ve got tons of recipes for you to try.  And we’ll even bring in our celebrity friends!

I encourage you to listen to our debut episode, "A Very Vegan Thanksgiving", and become inspired! Be sure to subscribe on iTunes or Google Play and leave us a five-star rating.  Enjoy! 

Stop Sugarcoating Obesity’s Leading Causes

November 16, 2017   Dr. Neal Barnard   obesity


Stop Sugarcoating Obesity’s Leading Causes

Americans are drinking less soda. According to a new study, about half of American adults now drink sugary beverages on any given day—down from 61.5 percent in 2003. That’s good news for Americans’ health. But it’s not enough to stop our worsening obesity epidemic.

Per capita sugar consumption has been steadily falling since 1999. Yet, obesity rates continue to climb. Last month, the CDC reported that obesity among adults in the United States reached an all-time high of 39.8 percent in 2016.

So what happened?

In 2012, Americans collectively consumed 52.2 billion pounds of meat. Individually, we eat about 270 pounds per year. Compared to just a century ago, that’s nearly 150 additional pounds of meat  per person each year. At the same time, cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to 36 pounds today. These foods are not only packed with calories, but also fat and cholesterol—which aren’t good for our arteries or our waistlines.

To start making progress against obesity, it’s time to move these high-fat foods off of our plates and start focusing on plant foods.

Populations who base their diets on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are the healthiest and trimmest on the planet. Epidemiological studies have analyzed the diets of thousands of people and found that vegetarian and vegan diets are best for weight control. Clinical trials have come to the same conclusion, like the 2015 study finding those consuming vegetarian diets lost more weight, compared with those following omnivorous diets.

The results are clear: The more we set aside high-calorie foods like meat and cheese and embrace vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, the healthier we will be.


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